Ch. 4, v.5a, Haṭhayogapradīpika awakening, practice
“One should, therefore, with all diligence practice the mudrās in order to awaken the Sovereign Goddess sleeping at the entrance of Door of Brahma.”
तस्मात्सर्वप्रयत्नेन प्रबोधयितुमीश्वरीम् ।
ब्रह्मद्वारमुखे सुप्तां मुद्राभ्यासं समाचरेत् ॥ ५ ॥
tasmātsarvaprayatnena prabodhayitumīśvarīm |
brahmadvāramukhe suptāṁ mudrābhyāsaṁ samācaret || 5 ||
Rev. Dr John Dupuche, is a Catholic priest, and Yogi Matsyendranath is from the Nath Yoga tradition. Father John and Yogi present teachings from their contrasting traditions, using as their starting point verses from the Haṭha-Yoga-Pradīpika.
These teachings are also made available by YouTube on www.nathas.org/en
The main subject matter of chapter 3 of Haṭhayogapradīpika is the 10 mudrās. Verses 1-5 constitute an introduction, and verse 5 is the transitional verse.
‘In order to awaken’, (prabodhayitum)
A number of questions arise. Is not Īśvarī all-powerful? How can she be subject to any human effect? In what way do mudrās awaken her from her sleep?
There are two extremes to be avoided, one is that the Sovereign Goddess is merely the plaything of human beings, and subject to their control; the other is that human beings need do nothing, and can be completely passive. In other words, what is the work of the Goddess and what is the work of the practitioner? This verse wishes to avoid both extremes. Both the goddess and the practitioners are active in their different ways.
The preceding verses, Haṭhayogapradīpika 1-4, need to be kept in mind. Verse 2 explains the meaning of ‘awaken’: it is the act of the Goddess arising through the various chakras and empowering them to function. The ‘wheels’ (cakra) are made to turn. The practitioners become aware according to the nature of each chakra till they reach full awareness.
Verse 2 mentions the grace of the guru. The verses 3 and 4 have described the prāṇa and the ‘path of emptiness’ with its synonyms. In other words, the grace of the guru is working in the practitioners; the teaching has formed their mind.
Thus the Sovereign Goddess has already been communicated by the grace of the guru and described by the teaching. She is present, even if asleep, and her mere presence arouses the practitioners for she is an unlimited field of possibility. She is ‘void’ in the sense that she is infinite opportunity, and this inspires action. She allows the practitioners to be useful. She is not a fait accompli. She entices by the vision of the future that she gives. She is promise and possibility. She is the hope of wonder.
This arouses the practitioners who are moved and attracted, in some sense inspired. The fruit has been held out to them and they are made active.
The goddess shows her power by the impact of her mere presence. They act. She is aroused from her sleep by their action. They are not useless, but cooperate with the Goddess.
“One should … practice the mudrās
What is there about the mudrās that they will awaken the sleeping Goddess? These ten postures or actions powerfully affect the body, bringing it to its full potential, making it flexible, coordinated, helping it to function beautifully, with the hormones balanced and operative and so on, making the practitioners aware of their body in all its aspects.
This transformation and has its effect at the deepest level where the goddess is present but waiting, for there is an affect of one part on the other. The Goddess is an integral dimension of the practitioner. The benefit of one is of benefit to the other, just as the opening of one chakra prepares for the opening of a higher chakra.
All of this must occur in keeping with the teaching of verses 3 and 4, which describe the prāṇa and the ‘path of emptiness’. The void of the goddess evokes the fire of the practitioners’ activity mudrās
The Goddess then freely awakens. She cannot be forced since she is Sovereign.
“with all diligence”
The practitioners must act with “with all diligence” (sarvaprayatnena), with determination and care, commitment and eagerness, energy and desire, hope and vigor, not half-heartedly, not giving up when the goddess seems reticent, for she is testing them.
She is conditional on them doing something, on practising the mudrās. She will be aroused and will transform every fibre of their being, and give them joy beyond their imagining. The awakened goddess is the reward.
The question of the relationship between faith and good works has been one of the most complex issues in Christian theology. Are we saved by faith alone? What is the value of human ‘work’? The Catholic tradition has always held that pilgrimages, prayer, generosity to the poor, participation in rituals etc. earn for the faithful an eternal reward.
This teaching helps to throw further light on the thorny problem of faith and good works. These are interrelated just as the goddess and the mudras are interrelated. One leads to the other, one enhances the other.
These works of pilgrimage etc. are the equivalent of the mudrās, thought they are not so centered on the transformation of the body. In this respect the mudrās are a lesson to be learned by the Christians, the value of yoga and its effect in bringing the practitioner to fullness.
The meeting of traditions arouses the power of the Spirit. The Goddess, aka the Spirit, begins to move powerfully. That is why I have found that meeting members of other traditions, like Yogi, inspires in me a sense of the Spirit who lies dormant and who is waiting for the meeting of traditions to move powerfully in a new way. This meeting of differences continues throughout eternity. It is the furnace of the divinity, a path of discovery, never ending The Fire and the Void continue to increase forever, exponentially.
The set of seven sessions on Haṭha-Yoga-Pradīpika 3.3-5 are now complete.